Mother nature is capable of some incredible things. To this day, we’re still discovering fossils and other evidence that our planet has been producing spectacular wonders for billions of years.
So when one farmer in Argentina found what looked like a dinosaur egg, it wouldn’t have been altogether surprising if that was truly what it was. Yet the truth was utterly shocking.
Jose Antonio Nievas didn’t expect to make history when he decided to go for a walk around his family’s farm in Argentina on Christmas Day in 2015, but fate had other ideas.
His farm is not in a particularly remote location, as Buenos Aires in just 25 miles north. Yet what Jose found did not appear to be from the world as we know it today.
Jose came across what appeared to be a giant black egg near a riverbed. It was so massive and unusual, he rushed home to share the news with his family.
“My husband went out to the car and when he came back he said, ‘Hey, I just found an egg that looks like it came from a dinosaur,’” said Jose’s wife, Reina Coronel, in an interview. “We all laughed because we thought it was a joke.”
It wasn’t clear at first just how big the object was, as it was entirely covered in mud. When Jose dug around it, its true size slowly revealed itself. At 3 feet wide, it was far too large to be a dinosaur egg… or any kind of egg at all.
It was actually a kind of shell — or armor — of an animal that lived during the Ice Age and has since deceased.
The shell belonged to a Glyptodon, part of a genus of the armadillo family. More than 10,000 years ago, the continent of South America was clamoring with these creatures which, according to fossil records, resembled a Volkswagen Beetle and weighed just as much, too.
Amazingly, the shell that Jose found was in great condition, which is extremely rare for its age. Like fingerprints, no two Glyptodon shells are alike, and each has a special pattern.
Glyptodons were herbivores, so their armor helped protect them from predators. Fossils from the cousins of this species have been found in other parts of South America, including Uruguay and Brazil.
Glyptodon shells are made out of roughly 1,000 bony plates. These animals had huge shoulders, stout legs, and a fused vertebrae to help them carry all that weight.
This shell proves that, with so many years of history under the Earth’s belt, there is still plenty waiting to be discovered.